Many believe we are in the midst of another mass extinction both on land and in the ocean. What marine animals are most at risk of extinction? Using current and past extinction data, researchers were able to pinpoint the most vulnerable types of marine animals.
Happy Shark Week! Today we examine a persistent and interesting biogeographical puzzle: why are there so few deep sea sharks?
Being small crab can be tough. Dodging predators from the land, sea, and air is no small task. A new study focuses on the convergence of individual behavior with ecosystem dynamics, showing how mangrove tree crab behavior may link distinct aquatic and terrestrial food webs.
What if a single bite out of your favorite cheeseburger was toxic to your health? In the ocean, copepods are faced with this issue when they feed on certain types of diatoms. Some diatoms produce toxins as a way to defend themselves from predators. How do these toxins effect hungry copepods?
Cephalopods such as cuttlefish are known to use camouflage behavior to avoid being eaten. Sharks are able to find disguised cuttlefish using their electrolocation. Do cuttlefish have a way to counter? This study suggests cuttlefish can “freeze” themselves in order to escape predation.
Zooplankton, the tiny animals that make up the base of marine food webs, are ingesting microplastics. Given the widespread abundance of microplastics in the ocean, this finding could have serious ramifications for zooplankton and their predators.
Following the guts of fish species is sometimes the best way to track small, mobile crustacean prey.
The current, and sometimes rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets is a direct consequence of climate change. Glacial melting on land can leave behind newly formed ice-contact lakes, which are prevalent around the world. These lakes contain high levels of mineral particles, as well as previously trapped inorganic and organic nutrients carried by glacial meltwater. What are the chances of survival for plankton in this type of environment?
Yes, you can purchase a fuzzy red tide-forming algal cell. Aside from being much smaller and lacking any type of eye, these organisms can produce massive, toxin-rich blooms in the ocean. Nasty toxins can be harmful to other organisms in the water and even reach humans via the consumption of shellfish and fish. Through the release of chemical cues, copepods have been shown to promote further toxicity in bloom-forming algae.
Seafloor trawling inevitably captures more than the species it is targeting. This means that when the remaining fishes line up at the buffet table, the options they have to choose from may be different than what they like to eat. In this article, Johnson et al., investigate whether two fish species in the Irish Sea are going hungry under different trawling conditions.
Jellyfish bloom have multiplied over the years, gathering in large quantities in the Norwegian fjords. Researchers used this opportunity to study the jellyfish and understand how efficiently jellyfish can find their zooplankton prey.
Article: Ruiz-Cooley RI, Koch PL, Fiedler PC, McCarthy MD (2014) Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes from Top Predator Amino Acids Reveal Rapidly Shifting OceanBiochemistry in the Outer California Current. PLoS ONE 9(10): e110355. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110355 Introduction Scientists have devised alternative ways to study ocean food webs using stable isotope analysis – particularly for carbon and nitrogen. […]
Not all starfish are cute! The crown-of-thorns starfish has been eating all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef! Researchers set out to build a model in hopes of demonstrating the trophic interactions between this dangerous starfish and its prey, the coral.
When discussing the value of an ecosystem, tensions run high. Some people evaluate ecosystems with heavy emphasis on non-use values, like aesthetics and spiritual appreciation. Other people value ecosystems based on things like natural resource availability and the potential for direct monetary revenue. It is difficult to assess the relative importance (or value) of these differing goals because the economic benefits of one are easily quantified while the other is more difficult to assess.
Chilean devil rays were previously thought to live near the surface, however, this research reveals they are among the deepest divers!
Humans have made amazing strides in exploring and understanding the world, and even the universe, around us; but right off the coast looms a large, mysterious entity: the deep sea. For as much as we know about coastal zones and the continental shelf, we know very little about the organisms, communities, and ecology of the deep. However, we are slowly piecing together information about deep sea species and expanding our knowledge of these systems. This includes recent research showing that eels found in oceanic rim ecosystems appear to be key links in the food chain, connecting surface waters to the deep sea.
Invasive species are known to be harmful to native species, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. But recent research has shown that certain invasive species may be affecting the nutritional quality of your food!
A recent study has shown that a species of amphipod is disregarding the “WARNING: DO NOT INGEST” label on chemically defended seaweed. As it turns out, these tiny herbivores are able to sequester (seize and store), via ingestion, some of the toxins found within the tissues of macroalgae. These amphipods then use the sequestered toxins for their own defense against predation by fish. What was long thought to be a mutualism between amphipods and algae has now shifted, giving a greater advantage to the herbivore.